Anticipating more than snow

22 Nov

Winter 1965 with my brother

Here on the floor of the southern Willamette Valley, snowfall is rare, especially this time of year. Yet for the past several days, our news has been full of snow talk; more than two feet expected in the mountains, an inch or two on the valley floor!  As I work, I watch.  The still air by the window frames has become progressively more damp and cold. In the last hour, the raindrops have swelled heavy as peas and viscous as honey.

Having grown up in New England’s snow country, I’m amused by all this preparation for just a dusting of slush. At the same time, I’m excited! It’s as if I were a kid again, anticipating a blizzard; the prospect of a day free of structure, full of creative possibility. Even the pain of freezing my fingertips in stiff ice-crusted mittens was worth the pleasure of thawing them around a warm cup of cocoa. In fact, whether or not the snow comes, the anticipation itself was and still is an energizing joy.

What if we could infuse every day with such anticipation?  As often happens with life’s questions, the universe has answered, this time in the form of a serendipitously discovered poem. This 1993 poem by Oregon’s Poet Laureate, William Stafford, speaks to this very moment as the one worth having anticipated. I’m posting this where I can see it every day!

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
that the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep for life–

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?